Muy interesante Aran. (Kindle for PC seems to have stopped working for me, but I was able to read it on their Kindle for cloud thingy).
On the “less is more” sort of theme, you may be interested in the “Goldlist” method of vocabulary learning. It was invented by a man called David James, who sometimes goes by the name of Uncle Davey, and also Professor Huliganov(!) - he teaches Russian on Youtube under that name. Eccentric some might say, but I think he’s on to something with his Goldlist.
You might not approve in the sense that it is writing-based, but the things you might like about it is that it gives the learner control over when and how often he revisits vocabulary, and aims to minimise the repetitions.
It’s also very relaxed & low-stress.
The basic idea is that you have a large notebook (he likes to use good quality ones), and write down 25 target-language words in the top left-hand quadrant of a double page, followed by the base-language (e.g. English) meanings. (You can also use phrases).
You can optionally read the words out loud.
You then leave this list for a minimum of two weeks. That’s the only time restriction in the system, and his reason for setting it is to ensure that when you revisit the list, when you remember a word, it is from your long-term memory.
You can go on and write a new list if you want to on a new double-page, but you should take a break or do something else before doing so. He suggests not working more than 20 minutes at a time. (OK, so that’s another time restriction, sort of). You can do as many groups of 25 in a day as you like, provided you take sufficient break or change of activity in between, but common sense suggests not overdoing it.
You write the date next to each group of 25, and then leave them to consolidate in your brain for at least 2 weeks, but it can be as long as you like.
On the next iteration, you look down the list and discard those you think you know. Those you weren’t sure about go into a new list in another quadrant of the double page. Call this Level 1.
I think he suggests you can usually discard about one third, so 25 will reduce to about 16-17.
You can repeat this for as many groups as you wish, subject to the “rules” mentioned before.
Then at least 2 weeks after that, you go for another iteration, call this level 2, reducing the list by another third, say to 11-12.
Then at least 2 weeks after that, you complete the 4th quadrant with “level 3”, reducing by another third, say, to 7-8.
You can if you wish continue the iterations in another book, which can be smaller, with levels 4,5,6,7, but I think he says when you get to these levels, you pretty much know all the words… When you know all the words on your last list, that’s the “Gold List”, i.e. you know all the words you started off with, and you didn’t have to revisit a large percentage of them very many times.
I’ve probably forgotten some details, but that’s the basic principle.
Now, I’d heard about this method before I discovered SSiW, and used it with some success in German. However, when I started SSiW, bearing in mind the advice not to try reading and writing Welsh initially, I thought I should avoid GL for Welsh for the time being. However, now I hope I’ve reached the stage where reading and writing Welsh should not be a problem, maybe it’s time to give it another try.
Actually, I’ve often thought about trying to adapt the principle to using oral and aural methods, using a voice-recorder, but I haven’t yet worked out a good way to do this. (If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be interested to hear). With the experience of SSiW, I think it would want to be much more phrase-oriented, than single-word orientated, which the original Goldlist tends to be.
Here is “Uncle Davey” lecturing a group of Russian students of English on the GL method. Perhaps a flavour of his “eccentric genius” comes across.